A comment on my previous post prompted me to say more about why I think Krauthammer's Irving Kristol lecture is required reading for the President's debate prep team. (Strange to have to remind them, since the Vice President introduced the speaker and a whole lot of them were in attendance.) The piece contrasts four schools of thought about how the United States could conduct itself as the only superpower: isolationism, liberal internationalism, realism, and democratic globalism. There are three reasons why I thought of this lecture as required reading for the Bush team:
- It provides arguments to criticize "Liberal Internationalism," the foreign policy of the Clinton Administration and the one, from what we can infer about Kerry, that he would likely follow as President. The value of this part of the lecture to the President's debate prep would have been to counter the alternative strategy of returning once again to the UN or waiting for the French and Germans to join the coalition. For example:
"Rogue states are, by definition, impervious to moral suasion."
"Of course it would be nice if we had more allies rather than fewer. It would also be nice to be able to fly. But when some nations are not with you on your enterprise, including them in your coalition is not a way to broaden it; it’s a way to abolish it."
- Later, in the part of his lecture where he discusses the elements of geopolitics that "Realism" gets right (and ultimately its unhopeful limitations), he provides the succinct statement of the problem of Iraq to which I referred in my earlier post and which (largely) answers the comment that I received:
"Whether or not Iraq had large stockpiles of WMDs, the very fact that the United States overthrew a hostile regime that repeatedly refused to come clean on its weapons has had precisely this deterrent effect."
To make his point, the President has to focus on Iraq's refusal to comply adequately with previous attempts to get its leadership to disarm. This was one of the things the President tried and failed to do rhetorically on Thursday.
- The entire section of the lecture on "Democratic Globalism" is relevant to providing a consistent statement of Bush's foreign policy in the Persian Gulf. Two particular passages caught my attention:
"Call it democratic realism. And this is its axiom: We will support democracy everywhere, but we will commit blood and treasure only in places where there is a strategic necessity--meaning, places central to the larger war against the existential enemy, the enemy that poses a global mortal threat to freedom."
"There is not a single, remotely plausible, alternative strategy for attacking the monster behind 9/11. It’s not Osama bin Laden; it is the cauldron of political oppression, religious intolerance, and social ruin in the Arab-Islamic world--oppression transmuted and deflected by regimes with no legitimacy into virulent, murderous anti-Americanism."